After the huge sounding and huge selling Bridge Over Troubled Water, Paul Simon scaled back both his sound and his themes with his first post-duo record. The early 1970s were the heyday of the singer-songwriter era, and Paul Simon fits in with contemporaneous acts like James Taylor and Carole King. It’s openly autobiographical in places, and Simon goes as far to reference himself and his wife by name in ‘Run That Body Down’.
Paul Simon us low key and relaxed, mostly centered around Simon’s guitar, although as you’d expect Simon is dabbling in world music like Peruvian sounds in ‘Duncan’.’Mother and Child Reunion’ is an early example of a white artist dabbling in reggae, and it’s terrific with its huge chorus and infectious backing vocals. The Latin ‘Me and Julio Down By The Schoolyard’ is largely acoustic, but adds some exoticism with a cuica, while the terrific ‘Peace Like A River’ is just Simon with a simple rhythm section.
It’s far less ambitious and wide-reaching than Bridge, and it’s occasionally unmemorable, but Paul Simon is a fine debut.